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Saturday’s Papers

Education

The Telegraph leads on the results of some school inspections in Birmingham: State schools isolate non-Muslims.

Schools in Birmingham are illegally segregating pupils, discriminating against non-Muslim students and restricting the GCSE syllabus to “comply with conservative Islamic teaching”, an official report leaked to The Telegraph discloses.

Department for Education inspectors said that girls in a school at the centre of the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot were forced to sit at the back of the class, some Christian pupils were left to “teach themselves” and an extremist preacher was invited to speak to children.

The report, into three schools in the city, follows weeks of controversy over the alleged plot to “Islamise” secular schools in Birmingham and will lead to calls for intervention. The report focuses on Park View School and its sister schools, Golden Hillock and Nansen, the only primary of the three. Inspectors found that Park View practised forced and discriminatory sex segregation and has “restricted” GCSE subjects “to comply with conservative Islamic teaching”.

The Independent reports on possible moves by the NUT: “School strikes: NUT to vote on major escalation in action against Michael Gove’s hated school reforms

Teachers will back a major escalation of their strike action over Education Secretary Michael Gove’s school reforms by threatening further nationwide walkouts from schools in the summer term.

Delegates to the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference in Brighton will be urged to back an emergency calling for further strikes throughout England and Wales at the end of June followed, by a programme of more strike action in the autumn.

Labour

The Telegraph has a leader entitled: “David Axelrod can do for Ed Miliband what he did for President Obama: get him elected

We are in the longest “long campaign” in British history – almost American in its length thanks to the fixed-term parliament. The phase we are in is the battle of political frames. The Tories want the question at the next election to be – “Who do you trust most to run the economy.” Labour want it to be – “Are you better off than you were five years ago?”

At the moment, no one has broken through. It’s a war of attrition with Labour holding a dominant but not decisive position for the last three years. The Tory aim is to grind out a victory. Labour’s ambition, as Miliband at his best has shown, is to win a decisive mandate. The Axelrod appointment is an emblem of that aim – there is no one better in the world at strategic framing and messaging. Not for the first time Ed has shown he won’t die wondering.

The Guardian also reports on Axelrod’s appointment.

UKIP

The Torygraph still see UKIP as a far-right party stealing just Tory votes. How wrong they are in their podcast: “Why is Ukip still stealing conservative voters?

“Boris Johnson is a massive Europhile!” That’s one thing we learn in the latest Telegram – brought to the people live as a Google hangout. The subject is the Tories and Europe, and what the May elections have in store for poor old David Cameron. Benedict Brogan tells Tim Stanley that Conservative voters are still drifting to Ukip. Dominic Raab MP insists that his party will do better than expected and Louise Mensch (live from New York) says that the Lib Dems will be hurt the most. But, putting aside party loyalties, the general conclusion is that David Cameron can’t afford to come third. If he does, will it mean a Boris Johnson-led coup? Louise says that BoJo is far more pro-European that many people realise…

The Guardian goes down a different tack with: “Nigel Farage rejects offer of Ukip tie to French far-right Front National.” For a change there seems to be some balanced reporting:

Responding to Le Pen’s overtures, Ukip said it would not join any alliance with the party because of “prejudice and anti-Semitism” in the Front National. However, the BBC also reported Farage as saying he felt Le Pen had “taken the party to new highs and is achieving remarkable things in this country. I make no bones about it, she’s got some good qualities”.

The Daily Mail also covers this story.

Roadside Cameras

Brendon Lewis, Minister for High Streets, is reported in the Telegraph for saying “Using CCTV for parking fines is a ‘violation of Magna Carta

Councils are violating the principles of Magna Carta by using CCTV cameras to issue parking fines, a minister has said, as he urged motorists to appeal against tickets. Brandon Lewis, the high streets minister, said that it is “natural justice” for drivers to appeal parking fines.

Councils that raise revenue through parking fines are engaging in a form of taxation without consent that runs contrary Magna Carta, the document that formed the bedrock of England’s democracy.  At least 36 local authorities in England and Wales are using static CCTV cameras to monitor parking offences, while 58 are using cameras mounted on cars. Drivers have been hit with £312 million in fines.

The Independent goes broader with: “Privacy: Vast network of roadside cameras pose ‘very real risk’ says surveillance regulator

Members of the public face “a very real risk” to their privacy from the huge roadside surveillance network that captures millions of motorists every day, the Government’s Surveillance Commissioner has warned. In an interview with The Independent, Tony Porter urges that clear guidance be provided to ensure “innocent” people do not fall victim to roadside automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras which have been the centre of concerns over the rise of surveillance in Britain.

Tax Data

After the “Selling Care Data” debacle, we are going through the same thing with tax data now, The Guardian reports: “HMRC to sell taxpayers’ financial data

The personal financial data of millions of taxpayers could be sold to private firms under laws being drawn up by HM Revenue & Customs in a move branded “dangerous” by tax professionals and “borderline insane” by a senior Conservative MP.

Despite fears that it could jeopardise the principle of taxpayer confidentiality, the legislation would allow HMRC to release anonymised tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies where there is a public benefit. According to HMRC documents, officials are examining “charging options”.

The government insists that there will be suitable safeguards on personal data. But the plans, being overseen by the Treasury minister David Gauke, are likely to provoke serious worries among privacy campaigners and MPs in the wake of public concern about the government’s Care.data scheme – a plan to share “anonymised” medical records with third parties.

The Daily Mail reports on the original Care Data debacle too.

Companies

The Guardian reports that: “Vince Cable to bring in tougher penalties for ‘dodgy directors’

Reckless company directors may have to compensate victims of their failed business dealings under new measures being brought forward by Vince Cable, the business secretary.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said Cable was “taking aim at dodgy directors” by bringing in tougher penalties, with some of the worst offences recently seen in scam wine investment, landbanking and carbon credit schemes that targeted elderly people.

Under the new measures, there would be greater freedom for courts to ban those with fraud convictions overseas from setting up in Britain, which could have prevented the Italian businessman Massimo Cellino from becoming a director of Leeds United Football Club.

‘Elf’n’Safety

It is nice to see The Independent with a piece such as: “Councils urged to curb health and safety ‘jobsworths’” as one imagines such ‘jobsworths’ reading their  paper.

The Government has urged local authorities to stop misusing health and safety rules to ban activities that are not dangerous and start using “common sense” instead.

Ministers claimed that a school in Gloucester banned girls from wearing “frilly socks” in case they tripped over; a Hampshire school stopped a pupil bringing a chick to school in case it spread bird flu and a borough council in Derbyshire ordered the removal of small wooden canes protecting daffodil bulbs in case someone tripped on them and fell into the flowerbed. They said an unnamed council refused to clear dog mess in a playground and that another banned Help for Heroes wristbands.

Energy Costs

The Daily Mail gives the story of a British Gas whistle-blower: “British Gas staff ‘paid bonuses tripling their £25,000 salaries if they inflate customers’ bills by 60% by targeting charities and small businesses’

  • Whistleblower revealed staff are encouraged to sell most expensive deals

  • Employees told they can triple £25,000 salary through commission

  • Churches and charities including the Scouts among those targeted

  • Some organisations have ended up £2,000 a year worse off as a result

  • Words ‘volume to value’ written on walls of company’s call centre

  • Energy regulator Ofgem vowed to take ‘firm action’ if it finds British Gas has not been ‘honest and transparent’ with customers

  • British Gas say they ‘strongly refute’ any inappropriate negotiations

Patriotism

The Daily Mail reports on the initiative of a Bolton Tory Councillor: “God Save the Queen: How school children may begin classes with singing the national anthem under new plans to improve British pride

  • Campaign in Bolton launched by a Tory councillor has been approved

  • It is part of a campaign to foster patriotism among the young

  • Schools will also be asked to fly the St George’s cross on April 23

One wonders if David Cameron has approved this campaign?

Terrorism

The Express reports from New York on the Abu Hamza trial: “Abu Hamza ‘sent terrorists on jihad from London mosque’

ABU HAMZA gave permission for terrorist recruits to engage in jihad in Afghanistan while preaching at Finsbury Park mosque, a jury was told yesterday. Hamza had the power to send men to war with non-Muslims if they showed “good ­character” and “obedience”, it was claimed.

The disclosure gave a disturbing insight into the reach that Hamza had while he was the imam of the North London mosque. Hamza, 56, who is on trial in New York for terrorism offences dating back 16 years, denies facilitating jihad and trying to set up a terror training camp in Bly, Oregon.

The Daily Mail also reports this case.

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